Socialist Worker

More black women are pushed into zero hours

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2759

Workers on picket lines at the Sage care home in London earlier this year

Workers on picket lines at the Sage care home in London earlier this year (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Black and minority ethnic (BAME) women are almost twice as likely to be on zero hours contracts than white men, and one and a half times more likely than white women.

The TUC union federation has warned that BAME women are trapped by zero hours contracts, low pay and insecure work.

One in six zero hour contract workers are BAME, despite BAME workers making up one in nine workers overall.

Some 2.5 percent of white men were on zero hour contracts for the last three months of 2020, compared with 4.1 percent of BAME men.

BAME women were at 4.5 percent and white women 3.2 percent.

And 40 percent of BAME workers on insecure contracts said they faced the threat of losing their shifts if they turned down work. In comparison 25 percent of white workers faced the same threat.

Half of insecure BAME workers have been allocated a shift at less than a days’ notice.

And half had a shift cancelled with less than a day’s notice.

Bosses win out from using these contracts and from racist divisions. Workers need to fight together for secure contracts and proper pay and conditions.

Meanwhile the employment rate for women declined by 0.8 percent since the start of the pandemic, compared to 2.4 percent for men, according to the Resolution Foundation.

However, working mothers’ working hours were down by a quarter. One in five mothers adjusted their working patterns to look after children.


Firms exposed in tax scandal

Serco and G4S have been forced to examine the ­recruitment agencies they use to provide ­workers for the NHS test and trace system. This follows tax avoidance accusations.

Outsourcing company Serco passed information about some of its suppliers to HM Revenue and Customs after evidence surfaced that agency staff were paid through “mini-umbrella companies” .

These companies are often used to dodge national insurance contributions.

The Tories have used a network of private companies to carry out work in the test and trace system.

Umbrella companies avoid some £4.5 billion through tax fraud, at a cost to workers.

And HR GO, a supplier to G4S, put workers employed by multiple third-party companies onto its own payroll after more reports.

G4S said in 2016 it would remove suppliers who did not follow its code of conduct. But it still worked with the company throughout the latest scandal. Serco said its investigations were ongoing.


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